How not to get the job.

pdxcfi

Flyin' Shoe
Notes on Job Interviews – Where I failed​

I sent this to a friend, thought I'd share it here too. This isn’t a how to succeed at a job interview, it’s how I failed. The intended audience is this for airline pilot or aviation related interviewing but has some good advice for anyone else. Over the course of a year I interviewed seven times for several positions and was not offered a job, because of the following:
  • Errors on the application. I didn’t think it was important to list that I was fired from a job, instead I listed that I left for another job, which, is only a half truth, but not the reason I left to begin with. Do a background check, addresses, pull IRS records, credit check, speeding tickets, arrests, ect. Get it all that stuff together, put it in a backpack, get all your s&$^ together, straight, early. Also to see what is out there…maybe something is wrong. Integrity: don’t omit information or details because its adverse.
  • On the topic of having anything adverse on your record. Excellent way to not get a highly competitive job, however, no one ever thinks of the downrange consequences of things that happen after midnight. That being said, put it all on the application, have the integrity to put all the bad things that have happened on the application, explain what happened, and more importantly, what you learned from it.
  • Logbooks. My logbooks were a mess, for the interviews I needed them for, and were not up-to-date. Highly recommend an electronic logbook program to add the totals. Present both at an interview. This is a big weakness for me. I still, years later, don’t have a documented record of my flight times that is accurate. I have a good ball park. I think that handwritten logs present better, especially if you track landings, approaches, and instrument time. However, you can’t beat an electronic record for accuracy and presentation. Also, take them all. I showed up to one interview with the last eight months of flying in an electronic format. Everyone else showed with ALL their logs. Not a great first impression
  • Get your stories straight. During any HR interview…you’ll get asked about why you want to work at company X, leadership, customer service, ect. Any interviewing book will lead you to prep on these three questions. Have good solid stories prepped to give a good presentation. Also have stuff outside of work to talk about, sports, hobbies, ect. Present those stories to someone for critique, preferably someone that does hiring, they don’t have to be in the industry, though that helps. They should be experienced enough to give you good feedback.
  • Not looking like you really want to be there. I am pretty calm, neutral faced, normally and it takes a bunch for me to break a smile, relax, and be confident in myself. Well, to motivate the interviewers show them you want to be a part of the team. I was told that, me, not looking like I wanted to be there, was the reason for at least one of my rejections. Practice in a mirror or with someone that can give you objective feedback.
  • Qualifications. Not having qualifications that are competitive with what the company is looking for. Realization that I made on my first interview with a major airline…I didn’t really have what they were looking for in a candidate. Not flight hours or experience. That cost me about three years of seniority. Partly the opportunity wasn’t there in the industry, most of it was my focus.
  • Prep now. I figured that a good time to prep was when I got the call. Wrong. I should have taken the time to prep when I wasn’t ready to interview. When you finally log that 1000th hour as a PIC and your flight times and resume are fat on good experience and you’re not prepped for an interview, you are so far behind the power curve…you’re about ready to stall out. That stick shaker should be going off in the back of your mind. Get all your stuff ready, I’s dotted, and T’s crossed. Prep early, prep often. When you get the call, all you should need to do is figure out logistics and dry clean that suit, and not get hot and heavy prepping your stuff. Not the time to find you have an error on your application. That’s how I lost my opportunities.

The common theme here is that it was all me, not a company, or some conspiracy keeping me from landing a job that I wanted. That was a hard look in the mirror. Correcting this took a lot of soul searching and some tough love and some sleepless nights. And in the end, it’s all working out. Thought I’d pass along what I did wrong, so others can avoid my mistakes.

Recommended reading. Here are a few books that I used to get myself straightened out. I’m not getting kickbacks from these. Just what I used. Though these were mostly too late.

*Checklist for Success by Linda Marshall
*Reporting Clear by Linda Marshall
*Interpreting HPI subscales https://237jzd2nbeeb3ocdpdcjau97-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Interpreting_HPI_Subscales.pdf

I don’t know if a prep service is helpful. Having someone scour your application for errors, ect is probably worth the money. That seems to be where all my errors have been.
 

dustoff17

Well-Known Member
Thank you for sharing, especially the personal side, this is presented well. It's a good lesson for all of us in some aspects but to an applicant, its great.

I am in the search for a pilot for our Part 91 operation so let me add to the above from the hiring person's perspective. Now I understand that mine will be different from that of an airline but here goes...…..

I announced the job opening here first, then on another website. From the two postings, I received 27 resumes. Below are some tips I want to share from my experience going through these resumes:

++ I eliminated about 7 because the applicants didn't meet the minimum REQUIREMENTS!!! -- DON'T do this!! Some people will say "You should apply anyway, the worse that could happen is that they won't hire you." NO, the worse is that you have demonstrated your inability to follow basic instructions or lack the attention-to-detail needed for the position. One particular applicant for this position, did this very thing when applying for a position I was trying to fill a few years ago. I had to tell him that he would NOT be considered for THIS position because of his previous unqualified submission.

++ I eliminated 6 because of spelling errors!! Review your resume and cover letter!!!! Have someone else do it for you if you have to. And for the love of all that is Holy, if you're applying for a job as a pilot, learn how to spell AVIATION!!!

++ I eliminated 5 during the phone interview stage of the process. If you're set up for a phone interview at a specific time on a specific date, be available or, at the very least, call and let the me know that you have a conflict. Also, since you know what time you're supposed to interview, plan your Kindergarten Snack Time accordingly; I eliminated 2 of these 5 because they were eating during the interview!

++ As stated in the OP above; know the answers to the most common questions BEFORE the question is asked. For example, you SHOULD know why you're leaving your current job and you SHOULD know why you want to work for my Company. Do NOT tell me the only reason you want to work for me is because you think it will make you look better to the members of the Organization you founded. Really...?

++ Dress for success. You don't have to wear a tux but tuck your shirt in and break out the iron, even if only for the "first impression" factor.

++ During the interview, plan to LISTEN as much as you need to plan to talk. I eliminated 4 applicants because they INSISTED on talking, even when it meant talking OVER me. Your conduct during an interview is indicative of your mannerism in the cockpit.

++ I like to ask an applicant about a memorable flight either a good one or a not-so-good one. Regardless of which type of flight you choose to discuss, it is NEVER a good idea to include intentional FAR/SOP/GOM, etc. violations in your story. Even if YOU think it adds to the story line or drama, it's best to leave this tidbit of information at home.

++ If you're coming from a 135 or 121 operation into another interview, you should plan to discuss operational scenarios. It's a good idea for you to be somewhat knowledgeable about your own SOP, GOM, FARs, etc. Failure to have working knowledge indicates (to me, anyway) that you don't take these documents seriously or that you think them unimportant.

++ When it comes to the negotiation and discussion about pay and benefits, know our numbers! One of my top 2 applicants lives in the Upper East Coast area where he is currently making "about $150k". He INSISTED that he would not be willing to discuss nor would he accept a pay cut. I asked if he had conducted a Cost-of-Living comparison in order to get a better idea of the new area of employment. He said, "I don't know about all that but I know what I'm making now.". Too bad, because if he HAD run the Cost-of-Living numbers, he would have known that my job, although below his prized "$150K", was almost a $30K pay raise for him!. Plus a great medical plan, fund-matching 401k with bonus contributions based on Company profits. AND he would have increased his time off by a factor of SIX!!
Know what's important to you and KNOW YOUR NUMBERS!

++ I like to work an applicant into scheduled flights just to see how things go. I know that outside the cockpit is your time, but for the most part, a crew will spend a lot of time together. And, in our Company, the crew will spend a lot of time with the Company employees/passengers. It's important to remember that your manners during a meal are a reflection of YOU. Don't insist on talking with food in your mouth. Because when you do, you project food across the table!! [this is just an annoyance to me...……..]

++ I had arranged for all of the in-person interviewees to fly with me (some were not type rated but we're willing to train -NO contract). One particular applicant had never piloted or ridden in a Citation CJ. The interview was going well so I asked if he wanted to go fly. "Hmm...not really. Unless I need it for the interview". For me personally, I had never met a pilot that wasn't interested in flying an aircraft that they had never flown before; especially if it was a free flight! This was a first for me.....

Well, there you have it from the hiring person's perspective. Hope this adds to the OP's and will help you as you move forward.
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
Thank you for sharing, especially the personal side, this is presented well. It's a good lesson for all of us in some aspects but to an applicant, its great.

I am in the search for a pilot for our Part 91 operation so let me add to the above from the hiring person's perspective. Now I understand that mine will be different from that of an airline but here goes...…..

I announced the job opening here first, then on another website. From the two postings, I received 27 resumes. Below are some tips I want to share from my experience going through these resumes:

++ I eliminated about 7 because the applicants didn't meet the minimum REQUIREMENTS!!! -- DON'T do this!! Some people will say "You should apply anyway, the worse that could happen is that they won't hire you." NO, the worse is that you have demonstrated your inability to follow basic instructions or lack the attention-to-detail needed for the position. One particular applicant for this position, did this very thing when applying for a position I was trying to fill a few years ago. I had to tell him that he would NOT be considered for THIS position because of his previous unqualified submission.

++ I eliminated 6 because of spelling errors!! Review your resume and cover letter!!!! Have someone else do it for you if you have to. And for the love of all that is Holy, if you're applying for a job as a pilot, learn how to spell AVIATION!!!

++ I eliminated 5 during the phone interview stage of the process. If you're set up for a phone interview at a specific time on a specific date, be available or, at the very least, call and let the me know that you have a conflict. Also, since you know what time you're supposed to interview, plan your Kindergarten Snack Time accordingly; I eliminated 2 of these 5 because they were eating during the interview!

++ As stated in the OP above; know the answers to the most common questions BEFORE the question is asked. For example, you SHOULD know why you're leaving your current job and you SHOULD know why you want to work for my Company. Do NOT tell me the only reason you want to work for me is because you think it will make you look better to the members of the Organization you founded. Really...?

++ Dress for success. You don't have to wear a tux but tuck your shirt in and break out the iron, even if only for the "first impression" factor.

++ During the interview, plan to LISTEN as much as you need to plan to talk. I eliminated 4 applicants because they INSISTED on talking, even when it meant talking OVER me. Your conduct during an interview is indicative of your mannerism in the cockpit.

++ I like to ask an applicant about a memorable flight either a good one or a not-so-good one. Regardless of which type of flight you choose to discuss, it is NEVER a good idea to include intentional FAR/SOP/GOM, etc. violations in your story. Even if YOU think it adds to the story line or drama, it's best to leave this tidbit of information at home.

++ If you're coming from a 135 or 121 operation into another interview, you should plan to discuss operational scenarios. It's a good idea for you to be somewhat knowledgeable about your own SOP, GOM, FARs, etc. Failure to have working knowledge indicates (to me, anyway) that you don't take these documents seriously or that you think them unimportant.

++ When it comes to the negotiation and discussion about pay and benefits, know our numbers! One of my top 2 applicants lives in the Upper East Coast area where he is currently making "about $150k". He INSISTED that he would not be willing to discuss nor would he accept a pay cut. I asked if he had conducted a Cost-of-Living comparison in order to get a better idea of the new area of employment. He said, "I don't know about all that but I know what I'm making now.". Too bad, because if he HAD run the Cost-of-Living numbers, he would have known that my job, although below his prized "$150K", was almost a $30K pay raise for him!. Plus a great medical plan, fund-matching 401k with bonus contributions based on Company profits. AND he would have increased his time off by a factor of SIX!!
Know what's important to you and KNOW YOUR NUMBERS!

++ I like to work an applicant into scheduled flights just to see how things go. I know that outside the cockpit is your time, but for the most part, a crew will spend a lot of time together. And, in our Company, the crew will spend a lot of time with the Company employees/passengers. It's important to remember that your manners during a meal are a reflection of YOU. Don't insist on talking with food in your mouth. Because when you do, you project food across the table!! [this is just an annoyance to me...……..]

++ I had arranged for all of the in-person interviewees to fly with me (some were not type rated but we're willing to train -NO contract). One particular applicant had never piloted or ridden in a Citation CJ. The interview was going well so I asked if he wanted to go fly. "Hmm...not really. Unless I need it for the interview". For me personally, I had never met a pilot that wasn't interested in flying an aircraft that they had never flown before; especially if it was a free flight! This was a first for me.....

Well, there you have it from the hiring person's perspective. Hope this adds to the OP's and will help you as you move forward.
If you take out the aviation-specific material, and substitute the equivalent industry-specific language, this is *still* valuable information and advice.

EDIT - one thing. I'd soft-pedal the CoL adjustment thing - it's very hard to know what that means in context to a person, and not all CoL calculators are created equal. I'm not saying your analysis was incorrect, I'm saying that it might be natural for an applicant to be suspect of those numbers (or the suggestion thereof) and encouraging a little research might be a softer-touch approach. The applicant was clearly not flexible, but I've seen softer touches get the flexibility they're looking for. Just my humble .02...
 

milleR

Well-Known Member
I've been interviewing a lot of people recently and even though this isn't aviation specific I'll throw out a couple of observations that might be helpful regardless of the industry:

  • Know the company you're interviewing with. Really know them, not just a 5 minute scan of their website. To the best extent possible, try to learn their core values, short and long-term goals, industry and business model. If you can't find this information, ask about it at the interview
  • Have a very clear understanding of why you want to work there. What brought you to the the table and why are you spending your and their time on an interview
  • Understand the position you're interviewing for. Pretty straight-forward from a pilots standpoint, but if there are other duties and responsibilities (91/135 flight departments) know what they are ahead of time. If you can't find this out be sure to ask at the interview. Non-aviation fields, be sure to get a job description before the interview.
  • Ask questions! Ask your interviewer(s) what they love about their jobs, what they'd change about the company if they could, where they see themselves in 10 years, what challenges are they dealing with as an organization, etc. An interview is two-sided, you're trying to sell yourself to them but you're also deciding if it's a good fit for YOU too.
  • Be confident of what you're bringing to the table- know how are you going to make the company better. Be confident but not arrogant. Your resume and pre-screening got you to the table so there must be something they like, but arrogance will sink an interview real fast
  • It's been said a thousand times but always seems to bear repeating- dress and groom like a professional. That first impression will set the tone for the entire interview, so a clean shave/trimmed beard, haircut, clean suit (or appropriate attire), and a SMILE are essential.
 

dustoff17

Well-Known Member
If you take out the aviation-specific material, and substitute the equivalent industry-specific language, this is *still* valuable information and advice.

EDIT - one thing. I'd soft-pedal the CoL adjustment thing - it's very hard to know what that means in context to a person, and not all CoL calculators are created equal. I'm not saying your analysis was incorrect, I'm saying that it might be natural for an applicant to be suspect of those numbers (or the suggestion thereof) and encouraging a little research might be a softer-touch approach. The applicant was clearly not flexible, but I've seen softer touches get the flexibility they're looking for. Just my humble .02...
I absolutely agree with you on the CoL issue.

With this particular applicant, we talked at length about getting stuck on wages alone.. I suggested he research several different venues to try to determine if the wages we were offering would be a good fit for him. He was really adamant about sticking with his $150 or more.

By the average cost comparison, I could have paid him around $93k and it would have equated to the same money he is currently making.
 

Flyinthrew

Well-Known Member
Notes on Job Interviews – Where I failed​

I sent this to a friend, thought I'd share it here too. This isn’t a how to succeed at a job interview, it’s how I failed. The intended audience is this for airline pilot or aviation related interviewing but has some good advice for anyone else. Over the course of a year I interviewed seven times for several positions and was not offered a job, because of the following:
  • Errors on the application. I didn’t think it was important to list that I was fired from a job, instead I listed that I left for another job, which, is only a half truth, but not the reason I left to begin with. Do a background check, addresses, pull IRS records, credit check, speeding tickets, arrests, ect. Get it all that stuff together, put it in a backpack, get all your s&$^ together, straight, early. Also to see what is out there…maybe something is wrong. Integrity: don’t omit information or details because its adverse.
  • On the topic of having anything adverse on your record. Excellent way to not get a highly competitive job, however, no one ever thinks of the downrange consequences of things that happen after midnight. That being said, put it all on the application, have the integrity to put all the bad things that have happened on the application, explain what happened, and more importantly, what you learned from it.
  • Logbooks. My logbooks were a mess, for the interviews I needed them for, and were not up-to-date. Highly recommend an electronic logbook program to add the totals. Present both at an interview. This is a big weakness for me. I still, years later, don’t have a documented record of my flight times that is accurate. I have a good ball park. I think that handwritten logs present better, especially if you track landings, approaches, and instrument time. However, you can’t beat an electronic record for accuracy and presentation. Also, take them all. I showed up to one interview with the last eight months of flying in an electronic format. Everyone else showed with ALL their logs. Not a great first impression
  • Get your stories straight. During any HR interview…you’ll get asked about why you want to work at company X, leadership, customer service, ect. Any interviewing book will lead you to prep on these three questions. Have good solid stories prepped to give a good presentation. Also have stuff outside of work to talk about, sports, hobbies, ect. Present those stories to someone for critique, preferably someone that does hiring, they don’t have to be in the industry, though that helps. They should be experienced enough to give you good feedback.
  • Not looking like you really want to be there. I am pretty calm, neutral faced, normally and it takes a bunch for me to break a smile, relax, and be confident in myself. Well, to motivate the interviewers show them you want to be a part of the team. I was told that, me, not looking like I wanted to be there, was the reason for at least one of my rejections. Practice in a mirror or with someone that can give you objective feedback.
  • Qualifications. Not having qualifications that are competitive with what the company is looking for. Realization that I made on my first interview with a major airline…I didn’t really have what they were looking for in a candidate. Not flight hours or experience. That cost me about three years of seniority. Partly the opportunity wasn’t there in the industry, most of it was my focus.
  • Prep now. I figured that a good time to prep was when I got the call. Wrong. I should have taken the time to prep when I wasn’t ready to interview. When you finally log that 1000th hour as a PIC and your flight times and resume are fat on good experience and you’re not prepped for an interview, you are so far behind the power curve…you’re about ready to stall out. That stick shaker should be going off in the back of your mind. Get all your stuff ready, I’s dotted, and T’s crossed. Prep early, prep often. When you get the call, all you should need to do is figure out logistics and dry clean that suit, and not get hot and heavy prepping your stuff. Not the time to find you have an error on your application. That’s how I lost my opportunities.

The common theme here is that it was all me, not a company, or some conspiracy keeping me from landing a job that I wanted. That was a hard look in the mirror. Correcting this took a lot of soul searching and some tough love and some sleepless nights. And in the end, it’s all working out. Thought I’d pass along what I did wrong, so others can avoid my mistakes.

Recommended reading. Here are a few books that I used to get myself straightened out. I’m not getting kickbacks from these. Just what I used. Though these were mostly too late.

*Checklist for Success by Linda Marshall
*Reporting Clear by Linda Marshall
*Interpreting HPI subscales https://237jzd2nbeeb3ocdpdcjau97-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Interpreting_HPI_Subscales.pdf

I don’t know if a prep service is helpful. Having someone scour your application for errors, ect is probably worth the money. That seems to be where all my errors have been.
That is incredibly candid stuff, my friend. This underscores the need for networking with those ahead of you, and/or having a mentor. Having a mentor of some kind in the field will help to keep one from having such terribly unrecognized Spacial D.

Also, for the OP, did you land on your feet after all that fail?
 

dustoff17

Well-Known Member
ADDENDUM:

AFTER all is said and done, be gracious whether you get the job or not!! Aviation is WAY too small to get spooled up at an employer. You never never know who THEY know.

I talked to 3 of my top 5 today; ALL three asked why they were not selected. Two were "very thankful for the opportunity" and appreciated the chance to fly here and to meet for the interview. Both of these pilots asked to be considered for any future position (including an upcoming full-time SIC position). The 3rd, not so much.....

When asked, I told him that his decision making and some of the flights he's making with his current company were questionable. I added that some of these decisions have the potential to put his certificate at risk. "Therefore,", I said, "...because of this, I don't think you would be a good fit for a position with our Company." Wow!!! He did NOT appreciate my answer or my candor.

For all of you applying….don't ask if you don't want to know......
 
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